Villaflor: The Azkals and the Undead-A A +A
Monday, October 29, 2012
IF my arithmetic is right, it’s only 16 days before the Azkals vs. Lions match in Cebu.
There’s no stopping the game from finally pushing through, not even bad weather (I hope).
I now have four tickets in my hands, after surrendering my voucher at the Imax counter yesterday morning.
My oversized friend Jethro Estimo, who powerlifts, plays football’s prodigal sibling rugby and possesses a vuvuzuela, has bought tickets as well, and I expect him to be with fellow UP High school mates Dax Barcenas, who has to skip his wanderlust just to watch the Azkals match against Singapore, Ruel del Valle, the trailblazing ice cream executive responsible for bringing Magnum to Cebu’s shores, reggae icon Sked Besa, and Neda’s I.T. wizard Ian Vic Alcuino, who ate binary codes for breakfast, lunch and
dinner during his student days.
Now these five football fans coming from diverse fields would be more restrained during the entire match come Nov. 15, since they probably have reputations to protect, but without doubt, the early 90s version of this posse of five could bring a stadium to life all by themselves. And I haven’t thrown Barry Canton into the equation yet.
Those who know him can attest that when his mojo’s on fire, Barry is a one-man cheering battalion. While all six of them are all semi-retired in the “entertainment” department, they’ll do their part in cheering the Azkals on.
Now, the reason I’m dropping names of close friends is not to encourage you dear readers to buy Azkals tickets just so I can mention you in this column. That would be pretty lame and pompous on my part (and you very well know that I’m just a humble, observant scribe who just happens to have too much time on his hands and nothing much to write about). You’re buying because you love to watch the Azkals play in Cebu, don’t you?
The reason I’m dropping five, actually six names that belong to some of the brightest, most interesting, and most self-possessed souls I know on this planet is that on Nov. 15, I’d love to see the entire Cebu City Sports Complex (CCSC) filled with similar characters whose sense of life would fire up the stadium and do the hosts and Singaporean guests proud.
Here’s a reality check: some 6,000 people will troop to the stadium, not all of them are fans, not all of them are willing to lose their inhibitions. And the Cebuanos have a reputation for being an audience that’s difficult to please. Worst case, the stadium, would have a funereal air, filled to the rafters with zombiefied spectators.
Just as bad is for the CCSC spectators to follow the crowds of Rizal Stadium, which are reputed to be lethargic, at best. I cannot resist the reference to the Rizal crowd because I have seen the football crowd at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City several times, and they are incomparable.
Panaad has that infectious atmosphere that makes it home to the best football spectators in the country.
And if you ask me which crowd to emulate, then the answer cannot be so obvious. It is the one that turns the most reserved of fans into frenzied spectators, the one whose zeal for the game is as real as it is infectious.
We alI know the Kaholeros and the Ultras would be here in Cebu to support our Azkals on match day—a massive bottoms up to these guys, by the way—and their cheering prowess and catchy chants would help in moving the supposedly hard-to-please section of Cebuano spectators. But this wouldn’t be enough, unfortunately.
And this, dear Cebuano Azkals fan, is the task – like it or not – that you’ll be carrying on your shoulders the moment you take your place on the bleachers of the Cebu City Sports Complex on Nov. 15. You must infect the dead, whether in front, behind or beside you – and bring these spectators to life, to let them realize how great it is to watch an international football match in the flesh, on a field we call our own.
But be warned: indifference, even to the unfolding of a beautiful game, can be just as contagious.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2012.